PM under pressure to bring forward 16 Aug 'pingdemic' deadline

·3-min read
A notification issued by the NHS coronavirus contact tracing app - informing a person of the need to self-isolate immediately, due to having been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus - is displayed on a mobile phone in London, during the easing of lockdown restrictions in England. Picture date: Friday July 16, 2021.
Currently the self-isolation rule is due to end in England on 16 August. (Getty)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged the government to bring forward the date that the self isolation rule ends in England.

The government has said that from 16 August, people who have been double-jabbed will no longer need to to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

But that step will take place earlier in Wales and Scotland, with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford confirming that doubled jabbed adults can escape isolation if they come into contact with a COVID case from 7 August. Scotland is also expected to remove the need for fully vaccinated people to isolate on 9 August.

Boris Johnson has insisted that England is "nailed on" to make the same move from 16 August, but Sir Keir has questioned why the timeline is later. 

The pressure comes as the number of people being told to self-isolate reached another record high this week, with almost 700,000 alerts sent to COVID app users in England and Wales.

Watch: Sir Keir Starmer enters isolation after child tests positive for coronavirus

The Labour leader, who recently had to self isolate after his child tested positive for COVID, said: "This has been a summer of chaos for British businesses and British families.

"The Tory government has never been able to explain the logic of their self-isolation rules and has just repeated the same mistakes over and over again."

Read more: The number of COVID patients in UK hospitals falls for first time in a month

Asked if the Government should look again at the date the restrictions ease in England, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: "We are always keeping it under very close review.

"The reality is that people putting themselves in self-isolation has been a factor in saving a lot of lives because it turns out that one in three people who are requested to self-isolate do end up developing symptoms, so it is, if you like, the only remaining measure that is being taken at the moment, because of course all the other measures have been dropped at the fourth unlock stage on the 19 July."

He added: "So we are being, if you like, slightly cautious about it, but we have got systems in place now where testing can take place at 2,000 different locations we’ll have for key workers to be tested so they don’t have to self-isolate in advance of the 16 August when we will then not require people to self-isolate but instead be tested if they are pinged or asked to self-isolate."

Asked if the 16 August date is set in stone despite what other nations are doing, Shapps said: "Yeah right now that is the date. We’ll always keep these things under review but I don’t want to open up false hope for you, it’s not too far away now."

He added: "Right now I haven’t seen anything which suggests that we shouldn’t wait until the 16 August."

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

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